Conference Structure


At HMUN 2018, each delegate will partake in a simulation of the United Nations or another international body and gain better insight into the subtleties of international affairs. Each HMUN committee will address issues of international importance. The wide range of committees provides for topics to suit each student’s interests. HMUN simulates four types of committees: the UN General Assembly (GA), the UN Economic and Social Council (EcoSoc), Regional Bodies, and Specialized Agencies (SA). In addition, HMUN offers opportunities for students to participate in the conference as part of the Press Corps or as a representative of a Non-Governmental-Organization.

General Assembly

General Assembly committees deal with a wide variety of issues, ranging from disarmament and security to law, health, and development. By espousing the principle of “one nation, one vote,” all 193 member states and two observers of the United Nations, the GA remains true to the original premise of the UN. Every nation plays an important role; delegates from China and Botswana negotiate and debate as equals on issues of great global importance. Debate in the GA is spirited, as delegates attempt to balance their responsibilities to their nations, regional blocs, and the committee as a whole. Delegates emerge from a GA committee with a thorough understanding of the promises and pitfalls of international diplomacy.

Economic and Social Council

The committees of the Economic and Social Council concentrate on providing specific solutions to a wide array of pressing social and economic issues such as human rights protection, criminal justice, economic development, international trade, and more. To achieve this goal, delegates will work with a medium-sized group of their peers. The EcoSoc committees are large enough to foster animated and informed debate, but small enough to guarantee delegates the opportunity for constant substantive involvement, interacting with and challenging each other. The end result for delegates is a comprehensive awareness not only of viable solutions to important global concerns, but also of individual nations’ roles in an ever-changing, increasingly complex world.

Regional Bodies

HMUN 2018 will include Regional Bodies that facilitate international discussion and cooperation on issues specific to particular regions. The issues presented to the Regional Bodies will include education, health, natural disasters and climate problems, peace, security, and region-specific social and economic development.

Specialized Agencies

Specialized Agencies provide delegates with an opportunity to delve into detailed and often complicated issues in a small-group setting. The SA consists of the world’s most powerful and dynamic bodies in which delegates are forced to confront volatile international conflicts requiring immediate resolution. Well-informed and well-researched delegates who are not only unafraid of speaking and writing extemporaneously, but also thrive on the challenge presented by the most demanding committees the high school circuit has to offer, will find their match in the SA. The fate of the world is in the SA delegates’ hands; whether the globe is shattered or preserved lies squarely on each SA delegate’s shoulders.

NGO Programme

HMUN 2018 offers a unique delegate experience in addition to our standard committee offerings: The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Programme. The NGO delegates enrich and offer fresh perspectives to the resolution-making process in committees by representing the views and policies of an assigned NGO, instead of a country delegation. The work, ideals, policies, and intentions of each NGO should instead be captured within committee debate and resolutions. To advance debate, explore yet unimagined aspects of humanitarian aid, and enhance the weight of resolutions, crises will periodically be introduced to the committee. Unlike crisis committees, the NGOs Programme will not be taking crisis notes from delegates.

Press Corps (press.harvardmun.org)

The Press Corps will simulate real news organizations by reporting on the proceedings of HMUN 2018. Using weblogs and multimedia, the Press Corps will cover all committees and other conference-wide events. While maintaining professionalism and journalistic integrity, the press will learn from experience about the challenges of gathering facts, analyzing information, and presenting them in an clear and efficient way. All delegates at HMUN 2018 will be encouraged to follow the Press Corps coverage of the conference on HMUN’s website.

Committee Dynamics


Debate

Every HMUN committee holds six sessions over the four days of the conference, each lasting three to five hours. Committee sessions are designed to keep the delegates engaged and thinking on their feet. The substantive aspects of the committee are coordinated by a committee director, while a moderator guides debate according to formal rules of parliamentary procedure. The delegates usually spend the first committee session setting the agenda by deciding which topic area to discuss first. Delegates then move into a mixture of formal debate and caucus aimed at formulating a resolution that addresses problems relating to the chosen topic areas. Formal debate provides delegates with the opportunity to address the entire committee in order to clarify their positions. During caucus, rules are suspended to allow for informal debate: delegates have the opportunity to share their ideas with other delegates so that ideas begin to coalesce outside of the constraints of parliamentary procedure. In debate, delegates are challenged to reach a consensus within the committee while accurately representing their countries’ policies.

Committee Topics and background guides

Every HMUN committee director spends the summer researching and compiling an extensive and comprehensive background guide on two topic areas. Background guides are the ideal starting point for delegate research, providing a detailed bibliography of further sources. However, additional, self-directed research is the cornerstone of the delegate experience. Delegates are encouraged and expected to conduct outside research to increase their participation in and enjoyment of committee. Background guides are made available online to students beginning around early December. For a fee, schools may request paper copies of the background guides. Prior to the position paper due date, HMUN releases updates on each of the topics to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of information. When your school receives its country assignment, you will also receive a brief description of the topics being discussed by each committee.

Working Papers and Resolutions

Working papers are used to collect and circulate delegate ideas. The ideas in a working paper are debated and eventually molded into formal documents written in the style of actual UN resolutions. After formal introduction in committee, resolutions are debated, amended, and voted on by the body. Passed resolutions represent hours of debate, negotiation, and compromise.

While it is satisfying to see the hard work of the committee culminate in a resolution, HMUN’s philosophy emphasizes the process of negotiation rather than the resolution itself. A committee must not necessarily pass a resolution to be considered a success. HMUN does not have official sponsors of resolutions and, in order to maximize the incentive for compromise, only one resolution on a given topic area can be passed.

Tips for Preparation


Like any activity or sport, model UN takes practice and skill. We hope that you will have the opportunity to improve your model UN skills both before and during your committee at HMUN. If this is your first conference, not to worry! Many of our delegates are first timers to model UN and this webpage and your background guide are your first resources to build the skills necessary to prepare and debate effectively. During conference, you will have the opportunity to take part in specialized delegate trainings based on your skill. During committee, your committee director is trained to answer any questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to ask any of the committee dais staff or Secretariat about any questions about procedure, your topic area, or about Harvard life. Committee director e-mails are listed on the committees page.

Topic Preparation

Students should spend time researching the two topic areas their committees will be considering. Once background guides become available in December, the background guide will provide an extensive background and overview of both topic areas to be discussed. The background guide should be your first stop for committee information as the Director of the committee has compiled, organized, and presented all information that he or she expects the committee to discuss. Take note of the “Questions A Resolution Must Answer,” helpful guiding questions of the committee and questions that are expected to be answered in the final resolution. All of our background guides also include a bibliographic essay as a starting point for additional student research.

Country Preparation

Delegates should learn as much as possible about the country they will be representing – both in general and in relation to the topics they will be discussing. While our background guides include an analysis of bloc positions on topic areas, students should also learn about the specific positions of their respective nations.

General HMUN Preparation

Students should familiarize themselves with the Guide to Delegate Preparation. Our training materials help both experienced and first-time delegates learn about the goals, accomplishments, limits, and powers of the UN and the international system.

Thorough preparation is essential to making HMUN an excellent educational experience. Pre-conference research makes committee more fun and rewarding, as delegates can then immerse themselves in their roles as high-ranking diplomats.

Position Papers

Delegates will be required to submit position papers on their topic areas prior to the conference. General position paper requirements for HMUN will be listed in the background guide. Specialized Agencies committees will often submit position papers in a different, specialized format from those of the GA, ECOSOC, or Regional Bodies. Please refer to the Position Paper guidelines listed in each background guide for specific information. The conference-wide position paper deadline is January 16, 2018, uploaded via MUNbase.

Plagiarism Policy

The open exchange of ideas plays a crucial role in debate. However, it is important for all delegates to acknowledge clearly when they have relied upon or incorporated the work of others. It is expected that all materials submitted to the committee staff before and during the conference will be the delegates’ own work. Delegates should always take great care to distinguish their own ideas and knowledge from information derived from sources through the proper citation of all quoted and paraphrased material. Delegates who are in any doubt should consult their Faculty Advisor, Director, and/or Under-Secretary-General before the work is prepared or submitted.

More information regarding Harvard's plagiarism policy can be found here: Harvard Plagiarism Policy